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The Thing I’m Most Afraid Of

ToplessByEmilyMay 03, 2015-4648

Why don’t I share what I eat anymore?

Here’s the simple answer: In general, I believe food should create conversation, not be the conversation. For this reason, I have intentionally made the decision to not share what I eat. For me, food is a personal and intuitive choice. Recovering from disordered eating is a challenging task in a controlling, label-driven world. And I’ve chosen to remove myself from any labels.

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time over the last eight years of my life researching restaurant menus for food choices before actually going to the restaurant; I thrived on control. Along the way, I forgot how to be spontaneous and live in the moment.

A time came when I thought, what’s the point of living if I have to put a label on everything? What would happen if I took off the mask, dropped the labels and just lived? What would happen if my decisions were made based on the premise of simply feeling good?

For many of us, feeling good is a personal journey, trial and error. Bananas in the morning, feel great. Running at night, closer to death. I try, I learn.

Here’s what I’ve discovered about myself, my body and what I eat. My body is incredibly smart. It’s smarter than any Google search, smarter than a nutrition label and way smarter than any fad diet. So instead of trying to override my system, I’ll let my body choose what it wants instead of trying to control it.

I’m on my own journey, as we all are, figuring things out as my body changes and paying attention to how I feel. For many reasons, I’ve made the decision to not openly talk about what I eat in my day-to-day routine to encourage living in the moment and letting my intuition guide me. This decision was also made because my work is focused around courage, vulnerability and shame, and not food.

I feel dared, to surrender to a label-free life and trust that a higher power will provide for me. It’s relieving to know that my one and only job is to do the best that I can, and it’s this thought that’s given me permission to be spontaneous and enjoy the ride.

This intention, to surrender to spontaneity and let go of labels, is heavily rooted in self-love; like when I bought jeans in a larger size for the times my body swells, purely out of self-love. I will not feel guilty for going up a pant size. I’m going to fold my comfy jeans neatly alongside the rest of my clothes, just like I learned in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. They will be just as wonderful as the other sparkly things in my drawer. I will feel loved when I put them on. I’ll think, I’m so glad I love myself enough to let my body fluctuate when it wants to, and not judge it. My body is smart and knows what it is doing. I surrender to my body’s intelligence.

So I’ve bought myself a pair of cozy jeans, and they’re the pair I reach for when I need that extra dose of self-love, and not that guilty conscious looming over me that says, Ugh! They’re tight again. For a small price, I avoid the guilt and allow my body the chance to be smart, picking the food and exercise it wants.

I do this all with a healthier motive in mind than fitting into smaller jeans, and that is, to feel good. And I know that’s something we all want. My body swells and shrinks every month and I can’t control it; I believe my Earth suit to be just like the sea, beautiful in all sizes.

Emily Nolan for Cosabella

So, instead of showing you pictures of my daily meals, I’ve decided to share photos of my belly: My shape, my skin folds, my dimples. I’m going to continue sharing pictures of myself feeling confident in my body, because that’s exactly what I benefit from seeing and sharing in media. Revealing my real shape, without Photoshop, is my effort to cathartically share what is real, and to empower those who struggle with accepting their own reality.

At first, I was frightened to show my belly in public, but I knew I needed to come to terms with a normal part of my body that everyone has. After this realization, I was terrified, but I dared myself to take my shirt off once or twice, and only in yoga. Then I would do it more frequently, even when I knew the yogis practicing near me. Normally, having friends with me would make exposing vulnerabilities easier but it’s hard to bare witness to my belly in front of people I care about—it’s emotional, coming to terms with my own beautiful reality. I realize now, that my belly is not as shameful of a territory as I make it out to be. I am brave enough to rewire my brain into believing that’s true.

Now, one year later, I can go for a jog in my sports bra. I promise you, there are days where I think, What the hell am I doing? My running shorts are too tight. They’re riding up. But more often than not, I think, I can’t believe I am doing the thing I was most afraid of. I am so proud of myself.

Self-love really is a practice. It’s a word we sling around a lot because it’s cool, and it is, but what’s important is to know, is self-love requires daily work. Meaning, if you want to love yourself, you’ve got to harness your courage and trust that you can do exactly what you think you’d never be able to do.

It is so important for each of us to make our own decisions and not compare ourselves to others. We are all so beautiful and unique in our own individual ways. It’s empowering to be a part of this community where we can encourage each other to let go of the labels and take off the masks we hide behind; a community that gives each other permission to embrace our stripped down beauty and vulnerable truths.

Here’s a self-love mantra to practice in the mirror: I am brave and beautiful as my stripped-down self, without masks and labels as layers of comfort and protection. I am the most courageous version of myself when I am vulnerable. I step into the light, just the way I am.

Top photo Matt Roy

Kind Contributor Emily Nolan

Emily Nolan is a professional model, teacher and founder of nonprofit, TOPLESS yoga, a globally recognized empowerment event used as a tool for practicing radical self-acceptance. Emily hosts The Hum, a women’s fellowship retreat which emphasizes listening to our Hum within. Through her mission-based work, Emily has sparked a global conversation around body image.

Nolan is currently writing her first book, Pretty Brave.

Find Emily Nolan at @iamemilynolan // emilynolan.com.

Join Emily on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

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this kinda rocks!
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this kinda rocks!
oh darling, indulge a little